Monday, June 1, 2015

Month in Review: May

Unfortunately May wasn't off to the best start with "Unfriended" but as it was the month of the highly anticipated "Mad Max Fury Road" I wasn't complaining too much. For the best part of the last month in autumn I delved deep into the twisted world of Mad Max; reviewing all four film's for my YouTube channel. It was exhausting but I came to learn a lot interesting facts about the films. The rest of my movie viewing was mixed as always; Netflix coming to the rescue on a couple nights when deciding on a title became an almost impossible task. I capped off May with Disney's Tomorrowland, making it my fifth visit to the cinema. Enjoy! 

Unfriended (2014) - 02/04/15 ★1/2
The ambitious concept for this social media orientated horror film results as a gimmick that gets old very quickly. The motive of the antagonist becomes pointless as the film progresses, leaving the viewer mostly uninterested in watching a group of teens screaming helplessly into their web cams. In addition to unsympathetic characters the absence of any real plot and poor acting makes for an overall unpleasant movie going experience.

Eden Lake (2008) - 03/05/15 ★★★1/2
The peaceful seclusion of an outdoor getaway is viscously snatched away in this British outing into the popular sub-genre of survival horror. Small village attitudes provide a sense of things to come in addition to subtle foreshadowing. The sickening level on violence inflicted on the film's male protagonist is shocking and highly distressing. An element of the film capped off with an ending that viewers may find bothersome and frustrating in light of prior events throughout the plot.

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) - 07/05/15 ★★1/2
Fans of the 2012 original will most likely enjoy this highly anticipated follow up. However while the plot is wafer thin and the characters one dimensional, enjoy is mostly had through the constant use of humour that is far from being politically correct. Uninteresting for the most part, this comedic musical mash-up lacks any real substance. Its focus is on the spectacle and theatrics of spontaneous and on-stage musical performance.

The Crucible (1996) – 09/05/15 ★★★1/2
Attention to detail and command performances present the absurdity of a most heinous and baffling period in Colonial American history. The susceptible minds of a god-fearing community fall victim to hearsay, hysteria and false accusations based on personal ambition and desire. Viewers will find the acts of on such female antagonist very frustrating and be deeply saddened by the film's conclusion. Language and dialogue are both excellent, bringing a level of authenticity to this very strong and compelling historical drama.

Scum (1979) – 12/05/15 ★★★1/2
This shocking and relentlessly brutal drama set within the walls of a British Borstal should not be viewed lightly. Under a regime of abuse, non-reform and hypocrisy; the many young offenders are stripped of any self-worth at the hands of their cruel and sadistic superiors. The cold and un-welcoming surroundings re-enforce a sense of hopelessness that resonates throughout the film. Performances are strong and realistic from the cast of young actors, Ray Winstone especially. Scum remains one of Alan Clarke's most impressive works.

Mad Max: Fury Road – 14/05/15 ★★★★
An action packed escapade across an unforgiving landscape, utilising the amazing spectacle of practical effects through extensive co-ordination and daring stunt work. Viewers will be exhilarated and left in awe by what is on display for the majority of the feature. Fans of the earlier films will appreciate the broken world that is depicted, with themes of enslavement and false worship resonating through a most fearsome antagonist. Central characters are strong and likeable, off-setting the depravity of their crazed pursuers.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) – 16/05/15 ★★★1/2
An entertaining post-apocalyptic adventure that offers an interesting change of pace and lighter tone to previous instalments. While the addition of numerous child characters are reminiscent to the Lost Boys from the story of 'Peter Pan', they also presents striking parallels to Australian indigenous culture. Production design is highly detailed and typical of the director's signature style. Action sequences and story make up the mixed performances in this staple of 80s action sci-fi cinema.

Without Warning (1980) – 18/05/15 ★★1/2
This very low-end mixture of science-fiction and horror breaks from tradition hostile alien oriented films by revolving around the recurring theme of hunting. While there are lengthy gaps between action the opposing views of the two veteran performers provide much of the entertainment. The film's modest budget is utilised well, offering decent special effects for the extra-terrestrial visitors. With all its flaws, fans of B movie cinema will find this close encounter enjoyable.

Django (1966) – 19/05/15 ★★★1/2
An entertaining and fast paced spaghetti western that helped popularise the unique foreign genre amongst western film audiences. The ambiguous past of a lone stranger and his quest of justice and vengeance are the essences of the film in addition to being significant themes throughout the story. The film's low budget is utilised well in presenting a run-down western community, one that is under the firm and exploitive hands of feuding Mexican rebels and racist fanatics. Performances are hit and miss, however there is a great deal of energy amongst the cast of colourful characters. Django’s influence can be seen on cinema screens to this day.

Nashville (1975) – 20/05/15 ★★★1/2
The very nature of fame and celebrity is analysed as notable figures in the world of country music convene on a central location over the course of several days. The interactions between the various characters expose an array of attitudes towards their peers and life in general. False generosity amongst the industry's bigger names and the emphasis placed on constant performance despite personal well-being is disheartening and realistic. The film soundtrack is very impressive with many songs written by members of the cast. This detailed character study will prompt lengthy discussion amongst viewers.

Killer Legends (2014) – 22/05/15 ★★★★
An intriguing investigative documentary exploring the annals of horrific true crime; tracing its impact and the transition from fact to legend over the long course of time. Sensationalism by Hollywood films are used as a device to examine the attitudes and behaviours of society while searching for a real life origin amongst various cases. The many interviews which are candid and informative, combined with the mystery surrounding the events in question will equally disturb and fascinate viewers.

Spy (2015) – 23/05/15 ★★1/2
Amongst the many comedic spy films made over the years this one unfortunately fails to stand out. While it is relatively funny for the most part, generic characters and plot formula in addition to numerous genre cliché's hold the film back. The humour is modern and somewhat juvenile, however many jokes become annoyingly repetitive which make the film's two hour run-time difficult to sit through. Melissa McCarthy as the lead carries the film while supporting players are dull and uninspired.

Poltergeist III (1988) – 25/05/15 ★★★
Unsettling visual trickery resulting from the a creative premise in addition to a confined setting of a high-rise building, set this sequel apart from previous instalments. While acting and characters are a little bland, the film moves at a steady pace keeping the viewer entertained. Due to the sudden and very sad passing of a significant cast member the quality of the film's climax was unfortunately compromised. However despite the set-backs and being regarded as unnecessary, a decent film emerged which fans will generally find to be satisfying.

Conspiracy Theory (1997) – 27/05/15 ★★★1/2
An often overlooked action oriented mystery filled with intrigue, set to a puzzling and ominous tone. The films soundtrack does a terrific job capturing the energy behind the multi layered plot which is well paced, keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat. Mel Gibson's erratic performance as the main protagonist embodies many classic traits and behaviours of individuals obsessed with the film's subject matter. Unanswered questions allow viewers to speculate, although some elements to the plot could have been explored further.

Inn of the Damned (1975) - 29/05/15 ★★★
This western style horror-thriller presents its haunting quality by utilising picturesque landscapes and a light soundtrack. Some early scenes are irrelevant to the plot and the logic of the antagonists is confusing at first. However the quickening pace and the presence of a strong lead hold the viewer's attention for an intense climatic sequence. Noticeable traits of exploitation cinema are present throughout which bring random and laughable moments, further adding to the level of entertainment.

Tomorrowland (2015) – 31/05/15 ★★★
This rather ambiguous piece from Disney appeals to a wide audience with family friendly sentiments present throughout. However aspects of the high concept plot may be lost on younger viewers. The visuals on offer are very impressive and are use in good measure to further enhance the story. While it's overly long and the characters generally under developed, there's a nice message encouraging of creative thinking and maintaining an optimistic outlook despite bleak surroundings.

If you're interested in checking my video review of all four Mad Max films, hit the link below. 
Mad Max - Just a Quick Review Series (Playlist)

Top Five Picks

1. Killer Legends (2014)
2. Mad Max Fury Road (2015)
3. The Crucible (1996)
4. Nashville (1975)
5. Conspiracy Theory (1997)  

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